White House Exempts Keystone XL Pipeline From “Buy American” Mandate

Image courtesy of Keystone-XL.com

Despite recent declarations by the White House that new oil pipelines would be required to be made with steel and iron sourced from within the U.S., the administration has confirmed that the recently resurrected proposal for a pipeline running from Nebraska to Alberta is exempt from this mandate.

Only four days after being sworn in, President Trump issued a memorandum declaring that “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States.”

That same day, he also breathed new life into the Keystone XL pipeline, a long-proposed extension of the existing Keystone pipeline that will cross through Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana on its way to Canada.

Calgary-based TransCanada owns the existing Keystone network of pipelines and first proposed the XL extension in 2008. After more than six years of review and receiving some five million comments from the public and other interested parties, the State Department rejected the application in Nov. 2015, concluding that — in addition to concerns about environmental impact — the pipeline would not result in lower gas prices or result in any significant contribution to the U.S. economy.

In Jan. 2016, TransCanada filed a NAFTA complaint [PDF] over this decision and filed a federal lawsuit [PDF] against then-Secretary of State John Kerry and others, accusing the White House of overstepping its authority. That lawsuit was put on hold [PDF] in late January after TransCanada was invited to resubmit its application for the pipeline.

Then earlier this week, while speaking before a joint session of Congress, President Trump talked about his efforts to restart this project and others.

“We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines,” said the President, “and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.”

That statement left a big question for some: The proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline has been around for nearly a decade, but construction has never begun, so does it count as “new”?

Not according to the White House.

Speaking to Politico on Thursday, an administration spokesperson explained that “The Keystone XL Pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipeline.”

The XL pipeline is not properly under construction in the U.S. In fact, TransCanada just re-filed its route application with the Nebraska Public Service Commission on Feb. 16.

Additionally, the XL pipeline is not a standalone line. It is the fourth phase of the Keystone Pipeline, which already connects the Alberta terminal to points in Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.

However, as Politico notes, the White House may be choosing to not push the “buy American” requirement on Keystone XL in an effort to expedite the pipeline and get TransCanada to fully drop its legal actions against the government.

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